At the end of reading the Gospel, I always say “the Gospel of our Lord” and the congregation replies “Praise to you, O Christ”, although they were a little hesitate this week.
Our texts were a little heavy on the law and Lutherans think the law and gospel should be balanced, like a brewmaster balancing the bitter hops with the sweet malt. You could say our texts were a little hoppy this week.
In our Deuteronomy text, we are asked to choose life or death, not mortal physical life or death, but a life well-lived. How do we live a life well-lived? By obeying, or walking in and with the law, the teachings (Torah), the guidelines for our relationship with God and neighbor, such as Psalm 119 speaks.
Paul in 1 Corinthians talks about a community united in Christ has no more for jealous or quarreling.
In Matthew 5, still the sermon on the mount, Jesus says he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Jesus, like Jewish leaders and like Martin Luther would later in his small and large catechism, expands upon the law beyond the letter of it to the spirit of it.
We have that, although we are called not to murder one another that includes not murdering our relationships with anger, or jealously, or arguing.
Although we called not to commit adultery, it means we are called not to look upon another with lust, for it damages and threatens our relationship with out significant other.
As a divorced woman, anytime divorce shows up its awkward. It is not meant to necessarily convict us, but divorce is a deeply broken relationship that should not be taken lightly.
We live in relationship with one another and sometimes those relationships get messy. Jesus says that if you go to the temple to make an offering, a sacrifice, and you remember that your neighbor has something against you or perhaps you have something against your neighbor; go to your neighbor and seek to make it right, to reconcile that relationship, and then come back and make your offering or sacrifice.
We don’t do it (offerings and sacrifices) the same way that our ancestors of faith did, but Holy Communion is a ritual sacrifice. What if we reconciled our relationships with people before coming to the table to receive a physical, tangible sign of God’s grace and forgiveness. I think that would be a life well-lived.
This week was the sixth anniversary of my aunt’s death. She was a teacher in a small town in Indiana. When she passed the people who came to show their respects wrapped around the room, out the door, wrapped around the lobby of the mortuary, out its front door, and around the building. She lived her life in a way that she was Salt and Light and in good relationship with God and neighbor. It showed. [If I can live a life half as well-lived as her, I will consider it a blessing.]
This week I invite you to ponder what is a life well-lived in relationship with God and neighbor? and are you living it? As well as, what would the world look like if we seriously sought to reconcile with one another before coming to Holy Communion.
May your ponderings lead you on a new journey, a new way of being. Amen.
Scriptures were Deut. 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Cor. 3:1-9, and Matt. 5:21-37.
Sermon was originally preached on 12 Feb. 2017.